Oldest yet Fossils of a Plant-Eating Dinosaur found in Rajasthan


Context: In a paper published recently in Scientific Reports, scientists from IIT Roorkee have characterized dinosaur fossils from the Middle Jurassic period, found in the Thar desert near the Jaisalmer Basin by the Geological Survey of India


About the discovery

  • Scientists discovered that they had uncovered remains of a sauropod dinosaur, which is the same clade as the long-necked herbivores in Jurassic Park – only these happened to be the oldest known fossils of this particular kind of sauropod.
  • It belongs to the family Dicraeosauridae and from the superfamily Diplodocoidea, these fossils are the first dicraeosaurid sauropods to have been found in India. 
  • And at 167 million years old, they are the oldest known diplodocoid fossils in the world. 
  • The scientists named the dinosaur Tharosaurus indicus, with Tharo deriving from the Thar desert; saurus from the Greek ‘sauros’, or lizard; and indicus from its Indian origin


About Sauropods

  • Sauropods first appeared on the earth during the Jurassic period, about 200 million years ago. 
  • They were one of the most dominant clades of dinosaurs, surviving until the late Cretaceous period 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs went extinct.
  • But strangely, in India, while sauropod fossils from the Early Jurassic and the Late Cretaceous period have been found, very few have from the Middle or Late Jurassic period, which would be about 160-180 million years ago.
  • Some 167 million years ago when Tharosaurus lived, India was not where it is now; it was part of a group of continents in the southern hemisphere with Africa, South America, Madagascar, and Antarctica, together called Gondwanaland.
  • The most fascinating feature about sauropods is their size. They can grow more than a hundred feet. There are many sauropod groups that are even longer than the blue whale.


Imp for: UPSC Prelims, UPSC GS Mains Paper III

Topic: Science & Technology



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